Rated G




1====== Late 1994, Kent Farm House, Smallville, Kansas


Eight year old Clara ran in the door to the kitchen and grabbed a fresh cookie to reward herself for finishing her chores in less time than ever before.  As she enjoyed the peanut butter taste on her tongue and considered a glass of milk, she heard her Mother talking on the phone.  Martha said, “Yes, that is great!  Jonathan always wanted a son and now he has one!  He was born a couple days ago and Jon’s bringing him home today!”  Clara started jumping up and down in excitement. The entire house started to vibrate.  Martha said, “Hey, I’ve got to go.  I’ll talk to you later.”  She hung up the phone, turned to Clara and said, “What has gotten into you?!”


Clara said in a sing song voice, “I’m getting a brother!  I’m getting a brother!”


Martha got a shocked expression on her face and said, “WHAT?!”


Clara said, “I heard what you said so the surprise is over! I’m getting a brother!  I’m getting a brother!  Daddy got a baby boy and he’s bringing him home today!”


Martha said, “Oh no, … my cousin Jonathan’s baby was born this week.  I’m sorry I got you all excited for nothing.  You know I can’t have a baby.”


Clara’s smile quickly faded.  She hung her head and mumbled, “I thought you adopted.”


Martha said, “I didn’t even know that you wanted a brother.”


Not lifting her head, Clara quietly mumbled, “Kal-El.”


Martha asked, “What?”


Clara said, “Nothing … it’s just … nothing.”  She looked up and asked, “Is the other Jonathan’s wife named Martha too?”


Martha said, “No, her name is Laurel.”


Clara’s eyes widened and some of the excitement returned to her voice.  She said, “Lore-El?!  Is she related to me?”


Martha said, “Yes, by marriage … but Jonathan is a distant cousin.”


Clara asked, “Is Lore-El from Krypton?  Does she have a spaceship?”


Martha said, “No, Honey.  She isn’t from Krypton.”





2====== January 16th, 2003, 10:30am. Smallville High School, Smallville, Kansas


High school principal H. James Kwan watched Clara Kent quietly make her way towards the front door of the high school.  He said, “Miss Kent, isn’t it a bit early for you to be leaving for lunch?”


Clara stopped in her tracks and stiffened.  Things had gotten to the point where everyone at the school basically ignored Clara and had come to enjoy her invisibility.  She turned and walked back to stand in front of Principal Kwan but didn’t raise her head to look into his eyes when she said, “Hello Principal Kwan.  Today is one of the days I’m scheduled to have time away from school to work on a community project, Sir.”


Principal Kwan asked, “The recycling one … or the hospital visitation one.”


Clara said, “The recycling one, Sir.”


Principal Kwan said, “I thought so.  Quite a coincidence.  Isn’t today the day that your cousin is going into space?”


Clara said, “No, Sir … well … she isn’t my cousin … not really.  She is married to one of my Mom’s distant cousins … and seeing how I am … adopted and all … I’m not really related to her … or anybody.”


Principal Kwan said, “Don’t think I sleep walk through my job.  I can put two and two together.  I’ve noticed that you take time away from school every time there is a space shuttle launch.  Are you a NASA groupie or something?”


Clara said, “Please, Sir.  My Dad set this all up with you!  I do my course work before I leave and am not allowed to leave unless the teachers are satisfied I understand the lessons I will be missing.”


Principal Kwan said, “I’m just trying to make sure that you are doing what you say you are doing.  We could always arrange for you to watch the shuttle launches in the A-V room off the library.  Some other students might to like to join you and watch the launches too.  Do you realize that any time you leave during school hours, you open the school up to liability issues?”


Clara said, “I promise.  I can’t do what I need to do at the school.  I’m just recycling metal.  I am trying to reduce government waste of natural resources.  The government throws the metal away and I recover it before it is lost forever.  I salvage the metal so it can be used later when it is needed for some other purpose.  That’s all.”


Principal Kwan asked, “Do you have some boys helping you with this?  Is that what this is about?”


Clara said, “No Sir.  I’m not interested in boys … um … well … I’m not … it’s just what I said.  I’m recycling.  I just want to help make the world a better place.  Is that so hard for everyone to understand?”


Principal Kwan said, “Look, that’s a good sentiment, but I hear people using words all the time … and I get into the worst situations whenever I start believing someone is being sincere with me.  I’ve come to have almost a sixth sense about things.  I can tell when someone is hiding something from me and I read you as a girl with something she’s not willing to share.  Against my better judgment, I also think you are a good kid.  You can have these times off only because I permit it.  Understand?”


Clara said, “Yes Sir.”


Principal Kwan continued, “If I find out you are doing something you shouldn’t, we’ll be having another talk!”


Clara said, “Yes Sir.  I understand.  Can I go now?”


Principal Kwan said, “Go ahead.”




3====== January 16, 2003, 10:45am.  Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


Mark Cross and mission operations controller Ted Jackson got up from their chairs and made their way to the coffee machine in the back corner of the control room.  Mark Cross told his boss, “That was a rough launch.  I thought the winds were going to shut us down for sure.”


Ted replied, “We were within the parameters … but only marginally.  I’m glad that’s over.  Now we can relax for a few minutes and then we get our bonus – we get to find out what’s been going on with the ETs.”


Mark asked, “Do you think that an ET’s been taking the ETs?”


Ted said, “What?”


Mark said, “Do you think that it’s an extraterrestrial that’s been making off with our external fuel tanks?”


Ted said, “And you wonder why no one takes you seriously around here?”


Mark said, “Supposedly NASA likes employees thinking outside of the box.”


Ted answered, “Yes, but not outside of any reason or logic.”


Mark said, “Well then, you be reasonable.  Where do you think they are going?”


Ted said, “I think they are burning up like they always do.”


Mark said, “But they vanish completely long before they should.  We can’t track what happens to them.  It happens in an instant.  POOF!  They’re gone!  One HUNDRED times we were able to track them as they fell back towards Earth, broke into pieces and burned up.  It was like clock work.  But the last ten tanks have disappeared almost immediately after separation from the orbiter.”


Ted said, “It’s just a glitch in our tracking system – a glitch that needs fixed.  It’s no great mystery.  No aliens are swooping in and grabbing them.  Why do you think aliens would want them?  Do you think they take them to a fuel tank store on Mars and turn them in for spare change … like a pop bottle being returned for a deposit?”


Mark asked, “A deposit on a pop bottle???”


Ted said, “Forget it … you’re too young.  Jeeze!  It’s like supervising a kindergarten in here.”


Mark said, “The external fuel tanks are 12 stories high.  How could they just disappear?”


Ted said, “The tanks are big if you are standing next to them, but when you compare a tank’s size to the volume of space out there … it is just a speck of metal.”


Mark said, “Well the tanks should be big enough to track.  We track much smaller objects all the time.  Anyway, the transmitter we installed on this tank will tell us exactly where they are taking them.”


Ted said, “THEY?!  You loonie!  There is no “they.”  The transmitter will do simply llow us to track the ET’s re-entry until it burns up.”


Mark looked at his watch and said, “It should have just separated.  We’ll see which of us is right soon enough.  Want to place a friendly little wager on it?”


Ted said, “Forget it.”


Mark said, “Oh, so you know I’m right.”


Ted said, “Okay, okay.  Twenty bucks.”


Mark said, “Make it fifty.”


Ted said, “Done!”  Ted Jackson headed back into the main part of the room and asked a technician at a console, “Bill, what’s the status on the ET’s transmitter?”


Bill Hanson answered, “Sir, it’s still sending off a signal, but the signal strength has dropped off considerably.”


Ted asked, “But we are still able to track its descent now, correct?”


Bill answered, “No.”


Ted asked, “What do you mean ‘no’?”


Bill answered, “If it were heading back into the atmosphere, the signal should have stayed about the same or have gotten stronger.  Because it became suddenly weaker, barring any technical problems with the transmitter itself, my guess would be that it shot out of Earth orbit and headed further out into space.”


Mark said, “Fifty bucks!  Thank you, sweet alien!  I owe you one!”


Ted asked, “Is it possible that there was some fuel left in the tank and the rockets re-ignited.”


Bill answered, “Not chance of that at all, Sir.  None at all.”






4====== January 20th, 2003.  Briefing Room.  The White House, Washington, DC.



General Binder said, “Sir, we found out where the missing Shuttle fuel tanks have been disappearing to.”


The President said, “So, just tell me what you found out.”


General Binder said, “They are on the rim of the Sea of Serenity.”


The President asked, “Where?”


General Binder said, “On the moon, Sir.  They are clustered together in an area centrally located between three Apollo landing sites -- 11, 15 and 17.”


The President said, “So, they achieved escape velocity and eventually crashed on the moon.”


General Binder said, “No, Sir.  The one we tracked showed up on the moon an instant after it disappeared from the proximity of Challenger.  It didn’t crash.  It looks like it was placed there … by someone … or something that likes things tidy.  All the missing fuel tanks are standing in a row – all eleven of them.  They look like a row of teeth on the rim of the crater.  There is some other … space debris that we have been missing … up there as well.”


The President asked, “How did it get there?”


General Binder answered, “We have no idea.”


The President asked, “Could there be a magnetic force in that spot that attracts space junk?  Couldn’t it drift toward that spot and then be pulled down?  Maybe the lighter gravity on the moon allows the tanks to crash without much damage.”


General Binder said, “That wouldn’t explain the submarines, merchant ships, and airplanes.  There may even be some cars up there.”


The President said, “Is this some kind of joke?  I was waiting for you to start talking Devil’s Triangle before you mentioned cars.  Are you going to tell me Fred Sanford is up there too?”


General Binder said, “We won’t know exactly who or what is up there until we can get better photographs.”


The President said, “Well, get them!  I don’t care if you have to spin Hubble around.  I want to know what’s going on!”




5====== February 1st, 2003, 8:40am. Smallville High School, Smallville, Kansas


High school principal H. James Kwan felt a sense of déjà vu as he watched Clara Kent quietly make her way towards the front door of the high school.  He said, “Miss Kent, I don’t believe you are scheduled for any extra curricular activity today.  Get back to your class room.”


Clara said, “Sir, I have to leave now!”


Principal Kwan said, “This school doesn’t have flex hours Miss Kent.  I know you are used to having the freedom of home schooling, but you can’t just leave here every time one of your cows needs milked.  We are legally responsible for you unless you have permission to me away from school – which you do NOT have!”


Clara said, “I need to go … I’m sick … *cough*”


Principal Kwan said, “I suggest you take some drama classes next year.  You sound like someone who has never coughed before.  You certainly don’t know haw to fake one well enough to wouldn’t convince anyone.    You don’t look sick at all – just upset.  Did you have a fight with another student?  Did someone say something to upset you?  Let’s go into my office.  We can work the problem out … whatever it is.”


Clara said, “I don’t have time to discuss this with you.  I really have to go now!”


Principal Kwan said, “If you are sick, go to the school nurse.  If it is a female problem, you can talk to her about it.  If she thinks you should go home, we’ll call your parents.  When one of them comes to pick you up, I’ll talk to them.”


Clara blurted out, “The space shuttle is in trouble.  It’s damaged.  It won’t survive long enough to land!”


Principal Kwan said, “I’ve listened to all the reports.  Everyone says the landing will be routine.  How much damage could a little foam insulation do?  The media blew the entire thing out of proportion.  Go back to your class room.”


Clara shouted, “They’ll all die!”


Principal Kwan said, “Even if that was true, what could you do about it?  Now calm down and return to your class room or sit in the school office until the day is over.  Those are your options.”


Clara said, “I’m really sorry Sir, but I can’t just stay in school knowing ….”  Clara turned and ran out the door.  Principal Kwan walked briskly to the door and went outside.  He looked in every direction, but Clara was no where to be seen.  He said, “For a sick girl, she certainly is fast on her feet.





6====== February 1st, 2003, 8:45am. Main Cockpit, US Space Shuttle Columbia


 Rick said, “Bill, what’s happening?”


Bill said, “I have no idea.  She’s handling very rough.  I’m getting a lot of turbulence since entry interface.  It feels like flying a jet with too much ice on the wings … but of course that can’t be what’s happening.  It’s hotter than hell out there.  Something is VERY wrong here … but in some ways, it feels like Columbia is flying itself.”


Rick asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”


Bill said, “Definitely!”


Rick said, “Name it!”


Bill said, “Start praying!”





7====== February 1st, 2003, 9:10am.  Communications between Columbia and Ground Control.


Rick said, “Houston, what do you mean our escort won’t say?  What’s on our damned wing?!!  This has been the longest damned half hour of my life!!”


Houston responded, “I’m sorry, Rick.  Your escort won’t respond to our transmissions.  He just keeps reciting the Rosary over and over again.”





8====== February 1st, 2003, 9:40am. Smallville High School, Smallville, Kansas


The high school principal’s secretary Amanda Fuller knocked on Principal Kwan’s door.  She said, “Clara Kent is here to see you.”


Principal Kwan said, “Send her in.”  When Clara walked into his office, he said, “I see you took time to change clothes.  Is your tantrum for the day over now?”


Clara said, “Yes Sir.”


 Principal Kwan asked, “Do you have anything to say for yourself, young lady?”


Clara said, “No Sir … Just that I’m sorry that I make your job harder than it has to be.”


Principal Kwan asked, “Can you promise me that it won’t happen again?”


Clara paused for a few moments before saying, “No Sir, … I can’t.”


Principal Kwan asked, “Clara … What should I do with you?  By all accounts you are a good student despite daydreaming through your classes, but you just don’t make any effort at all to fit in.  What do you think your punishment should be?”


Clara said, “I don’t know Sir.  I know what I want really doesn’t matter … but I hate sitting in detention doing nothing … especially if there are a bunch of jocks in detention with me.  I would rather do cleaning or maintenance or paint a mural or something rather than just sit and do nothing … except deflect spit wads.”


Principal Kwan said, “Well it is supposed to be punishment.  If you enjoy what you’re doing, there’s no point to it.  You’ll never learn to obey authority.  So, I will give you a 3 day detention after school and you will do absolutely nothing during that time – no reading or homework or talking.  Just to make sure you are pulling some reverse psychology stunt here, there will be no ‘jocks’ – no boys or men in detention with you at all.  After that, you will spend two hours every night after school working for our janitor.”


Clara said, “Thank you Sir.”


Principal Kwan said, “Get back to class.”  Clara left the office and Principal Kwan turned up the volume on his radio.  The reporter was saying, “… and despite all the claims that Challenger hadn’t been damaged, it is plain to see that several ceramic tiles are missing from its left wing.  Experts tell us that the tiles must have fallen off after re-entry because the shuttle couldn’t have survived without them.”





4====== January 20th, 2003.  Briefing Room.  The White House, Washington, DC.


The President asked, “What do the photos show, General?”


General Binder said, “It appears that someone is gathering raw materials – possibly for a moon base.  Most of the salvaged items seem to have come from the ocean floor.  We base this on the corrosion and remains of sea life on the hulls of the ships and airplanes.  The largest object up there is an oil tanker.”


The President asked, “Any idea who could have done all this?”


General Binder said, “We have theories but nothing solid.  We can’t trace this activity to any one individual, group or organization.”


The President said,”What a week!  First, there were the pictures from the Air Force of the space shuttle in flight with a woman clinging to the leading edge of the left wing.  Why couldn’t it at least have been the right wing!  Now these new moon photos only deepen the mystery of who is stealing the external fuel tanks instead of resolving anything.”


General Binder said, “Salvaging.”


The President asked, “What?”


General Binder said, “Technically, the tanks were discarded in space -- a territory without national jurisdiction, so the tanks were salvaged, not stolen.”


The President asked, “I don’t CARE if they were stolen or salvaged or bought on E*Bay!  What I care about is that something is capable of grabbing them and transporting them in a way that we can not!”


General Binder said, “Sorry Sir.”


The President said, “Do you think it’s the Chinese … or the Soviets … or aliens?  Any clue at all?”


General Binder said, “We are thinking it’s someone meta-human.”


The President said, “Met a what?”


General Binder said, “Mutants.  There have been many accounts of humans mutating and gaining powers above and beyond those of mortal men -- this woman on the wing of the shuttle for instance.    We have agents seeking them out – to recruit them or destroy them if they pose a threat. We never dreamed that any have acquired the kind of power to do something like somehow getting on the wing of a shuttle or withstanding that kind of heat – or travel through space without protection.”


The President asked, “You seem to have made a lot of conclusions.  Do you think it’s the same woman?”


General Binder said, “Either that, or there are more than one mutant powerful enough to do these kind of things.  I’d rather believe that she is unique.  Her feet lead me to believe it’s the same person.”


The President said, “Her feet?  Why”


General Binder said, “There were footprints on the moon -- deep footprints of someone carrying large weights while barefoot.  The woman on the shuttle wing was barefoot as well.”


The President said, “The woman on the shuttle’s wing … She was Asian wasn’t she?  Do you think China is breeding these warrior women?  … Or do you think the Amazons are stinking their noses in our affairs again?!”


General Binder said, “The Amazons have never demonstrated the ability to go into space.  As to ethnicity, the woman appeared more Polynesian or blended.  But because of the writing we think ….”


The President said, “What writing?”


General Binder said, “There is a cipher written in the surface of the moon.  It looks like the person walking around up there wrote it with their big toe.  Here’s the enhanced photo.”  The General slid the photo to a Lieutenant and she slid it over to the President.”


The President said, “I didn’t know we could get photographs this good!”


General Binder said, “We try to keep the extent of our capabilities under wraps.”


The President said, “Have you been able to decipher this?  Is it a chemical formula?”

General Binder said, “No Sir.  C is Carbon and K is potassium, but the other letters don’t stand for known elements.”


The President said, “Hmmmm.  L … L … plus … C … K … equals … T … L … A?  It MUST mean something!”  The Lieutenant giggled.  The General gave her a dirty look.  The President said, “Please share whatever it is you find so amusing.”


The Lieutenant answered, “Sorry Sir.  It’s just that part of that message is very familiar to me.”


The President asked, “What part?”


The Lieutenant answered, “T … L … A.  Where I come from, that means True Love Always!”


The President and General looked at each other in total confusion.





10====== June 4th, 2003, 11:40am.  Clark Family Reunion.  Side Yard, Kent Farm House, Smallville, Kansas


Jonathan walked up to Clara and gave her a big hug.  He said, “Wow Clara!  Who’s coming?”


Clara said, “A lot of people.  Be more specific.”


Jonathan said, “Oh-kay.  Who is coming that is so special that it would make the most timid, mild-mannered girl in Kansas dress up in a way that would make the reining Miss Universe turn green with envy?  Is that specific enough?”


Clara said, “Embarrassingly so.  I’m not overdone am I?  I don’t come off as slutty or anything do I?”


Jonathan said, “Not at all.  You look very prim and proper but in a not hiding that you are physically perfect kind of way.”


Clara said, “Daddy!  Maybe I’d better change!”


Jonathan said, “Don’t, Honey.  You look great.  You look the way you should always look.  But you haven’t dazzled me enough to make me forget.”


Clara asked, “Forget what?”


Jonathan said, “Forget that you evaded my question about who this guy is that you dressed up for and in what way he is special to you.”


Clara said, “Oh, he’s very special.  I just want him to notice me so that he’ll come over and talk to me … and maybe let me know all those secret stories I want to hear.”


Jonathan said, “Oh, he’d have to be blind not to notice you … unless a crowd has gathered around you before he gets here.  But send this guy over to me as soon as he shows up so I can find out some things about him and lay down the ground rules.”


Clara said, “Daddy!  It’s not like that!”


Jonathan said, “I insist.  I want to talk to him!”


Clara said, “NO!  You DON’T!”


Jonathan said, “Oh YEAH!  You want to bet!”


Clara said, “Daddy, I dressed up for Grandpa!”


Jonathan said, “Whew!  I’m glad I didn’t bet!”


Clara said, “I just want him to approve of me and maybe even talk to me a while.  If it all goes good, he might tell me all about how Mom was when she was a girl.”


Jonathan said, “With William Clark, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.  Put on your emotional armor.  You will probably need it.”


Clara said, “I think he just doesn’t like kids.  When he sees how grown up I am, he’ll be glad Mom adopted me.”


Jonathan said, “Be careful.  I’ve already had a close encounter with him today.  I heard him say, “Jonathan!  Good to see you my boy!”  I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  It turns out he was talking to someone else.  That Scrooge hasn’t had his ghostly visits yet!  So, please Honey, it’s okay to hope for the best, but you’d better prepare for the worst.  Speaking of the devil … and no insult to the devil intended … here he comes now.  I’ll leave so I won’t mess things up for you.  Good luck!”


Jon walked off in the direction that William was coming from.  Jon’s “Hello William” was greeted with a grunt.  Clara was nervous and excited.  She straightened to her full height and best posture.  Her face broke out in her brightest smile.  She was radiant.  William Clark stopped in his tracks.  He stared blankly at Clara and looked her up and down a couple times before grunting and walking off in another direction.  Clara’s smile quickly faded.  Her entire body seemed to deflate.  After a few seconds, she started to walk quickly towards the barn.  Behind her she heard Martha saying, “No … No … No, No, NO!  Clara, you will NOT go off and hide in your loft or in your library young lady.  You have guests.  You will stay out here and be a proper hostess.”


Clara mournfully said, “But, Mom ….”


Martha said, “Don’t you ‘But Mom” me!  If you don’t want to be outgoing today, at the very least you will sit at one of these tables and be available for anyone that wants to spark up a conversation with you.  And since it was your idea to make presents for everyone, you will have that ghastly, horrible job of giving them out and, God forbid, accepting whatever appreciation and complements they may offer.  I’ll be checking up on you, so stay out here and be social!  … AND, no running off to get a cat out of a tree somewhere either!  The cats of the world can just stay in the trees they’ve gotten themselves into long enough for you to participate in one family get together!”


Clara turned and listlessly walked to one of the tables and plunked herself down.  She piled some potato salad on a paper plate and began playing with it with a plastic fork.  It wasn’t long before a male voice behind her said, “Clara?  … Right?”


Clara didn’t turn.  She answered in a tired voice, “That’s what some people call me.”


The man asked, “What do other people call you?”


Clara said, “Some call me ‘that foreign kid that that nice Kent couple got stuck with.’”


The man said, “In that case, I’ll stick with Clara.  I’ll bet your parents are thrilled that they got stuck.  I’ve just been admiring your library.  Its beautiful.”


Clara said, “I copied Taliesin West.  I might have designed something more my style but my Mom gave me a strict deadline on getting my books out of my bedroom.”


The man said, “Very impressive.  My wife is still in there.  I couldn’t drag her out.  I think I’ll have to throw a net over her and shoot her with a tranquillizer dart or she’ll never leave.  She was looking for a chance to get away, but she never expected to find her personal heaven on a Kansas farm.”


Clara said, “I tried to get away myself, but I got the proverbial parental net thrown over me … without the benefit of a sedative.”


The man said, “Oh, I didn’t want to bother you … I just wanted to ask you something.”


Clara said, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to be rude.  You aren’t bothering me.  I’m bothering me.  Ask whatever you want.”


The man said, “There were some quilts on display in the library.  I noticed my wife admiring the quilt that depicts the STS-107 Shuttle Mission.  Are you planning to sell it?”


Clara said, “No.”


The man said, “Oh, I can understand why you’d keep it.  It’s quite remarkable.”


Clara said, “I’m not keeping it.  I made it for someone.  I usually don’t make any two the same but I guess I could make another one.”


The man said, “Would you let me buy one?”


Clara said, “That depends.  Are you family … or a friend of my Mom or Dad?”


The man said, “I’m part of the Clark family.”


Clara said, “I won’t sell anything to my family or friends.”


Obviously disappointed, the man said, “Oh.”


Clara said, “Leave your address with my Mom and I’ll ship one to you in a couple weeks.  I don’t ever charge family members.”


The man said, “You have got to be kidding!  That’s a lot of work.”


Clara said, “I’ve very fast.  Sometimes I ask a person to send me some worn out clothes so the quilt will be more personal to them.  Are you planning to hang around here very long today?”


The man said, “Until I can get that net and dart gun I mentioned earlier.  Yes, I should be here quite a while.”


Clara said, “If the person I made the quilt for doesn’t show up, I’ll give you the one in the library and make another one.  She probably won’t show up anyway.  She’s a VIP.  I hoped she would come so I could see if she liked it or not before I gave it to her.”


The man said, “How could she not like it?”


Clara said, “It might bring back bad memories for her.  She almost died on the Columbia.  I was kind of nervous about how she’d react to it so I made a quilt with a zoology theme for her in case she didn’t like the shuttle quilt.  I have a lot of extra quilts just to make sure everyone is happy with what they get.  I made one for everyone that might come.  Mom has most of them in the house.  Do you want me to get to ones I made for you and your wife?  You might like them better than the space shuttle quilt.”


The man said, “I think I’ve seen our quilt.  My wife was on the STS-107 shuttle mission.  I think she will be thrilled beyond words that you made that quilt for her.”  Clara turned to look directly at him for the first time.  He continued, “Yes, I am Jonathan, the lowly husband of the famous Dr. Clark the astronaut.  I can tell by how she looked at it.  She loves that quilt.  She pointed out the missing tiles on the wing.  The detail is incredible.”


Clara said, “Thanks, I’m glad she came.  I’m glad you both came.”


Jon said, “She did point out that there was something missing from the quilt.  Something you couldn’t have known about.”


Clara said, “Really?  What did I leave off?”


Jon said, “The angel riding on the wing.”


Clara said, “The WHAT?!!”


Jon said, “Laurel is quite serious when she tells people that there was an angel on the wing of the Columbia that day.  She says she saw classified air force photos of the Angel gripping the wing and covering the area where the tiles were missing.”


Clara said, “That’s … uh … that’s something.  Umm.  I’ll bet the pictures were all fuzzy … like pictures of UFOs.”


A voice behind Clara said, “Not at all.  They were as clear as a picture on the cover of a magazine.  I’ll never forget her face.”  Clara stood up turned in surprise.  Her plate of potato salad landed face down on the lawn.  Laurel Clark looked at Clara with a surprised and puzzled expression before her face erupted in a brilliant smile.  She said, “Hi Angel” and winked at Clara.


Clara blushed a vivid red.


Dr. Jonathan Clark reached out for his wife and said, “Hi Honey.”









Dedicated to the crew of STS-107.   This story is a reflection of my wish that things could have been different somehow.  But I know that God has made a special home for you all.